Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Interview with...Terry Glaspey

This week's interview is with Terry Glaspey, Director of Acquisitions for Harvest House Publishers. Terry was named Editor of the Year for 2011 by the Advanced Writers and Speakers organization and is the author of more than 10 books, including Not a Tame Lion: The Spiritual Legacy of C. S. Lewis, who also one of his favorite speaking topics.

Please help me welcome Terry to the blog.

1. As an acquisitions editor, what do you look for in manuscripts? Is a unique sense of voice the key to consideration?

Terry: I am looking for two key things: quality and marketability. Both are important. In terms of quality, I am always looking for good writing, fresh new perspectives, theological orthodoxy, creativity, energy, and style. Personally, I can enjoy reading about any topic of it has these qualities. But, and this is the second thing I have to look for, the book needs to be marketable. We can’t ignore that publishing is a business and that publishers need to sell books. So any book that is going to receive serious consideration needs a topic that has a wide level of interest among readers, and it usually needs to have an author with a strong platform who can steer people toward it. The day has long vanished when an author can count on the publishers to do extensive promotion on their books, unless they are already a bestselling name. Sad, but true. In these economic times the marketing budgets have shrunk. It is critical for authors to use every means at their disposal to get the word out. And the topic needs to be one that is of general interest—not overly specialized.

2. What would you say the greatest need is right now at Harvest House?

Terry: We need good books that are marketable. There isn’t necessarily a formula, but anything that falls within that category is a possibility for us.

3. What’s been the most rewarding experience in your editing career?

Terry: I love working with authors who are willing to work hard to improve their books. The best writers are those willing to go through numerous drafts in order to deliver something that is polished and powerful. I have had the honor of working with some exceptional writers—people whose talent far outstrips my own—but have been able to help them make a good book even better. Few things are more satisfying than that!

4. How do you think faith and the arts interact?

Terry: Do you have a couple of hours to talk about this? J This is one of my favorite topics, and one I am currently working on for a new book I am writing. We are created in the image of God, and one of the obvious characteristics of God is that He is a creator. We have the privilege and enjoyment of also being what Tolkien referred to as “sub-creators,” those who re-arrange God’s creation in fresh and beautiful ways. And I believe that God speaks to us very powerfully in beauty. I am often moved more deeply by a song or a painting or a film than I am by most sermons. To be an artist, with words or paints or film or clay or a quilt or whatever, is a high and important calling. But Christian art should not be propaganda for the Christian cause. It should be about truth. Art is all about truth-telling, including uncomfortable truths, and we all need to be challenged and inspired in ways that the arts best accomplish.

5. You’re an avid C.S Lewis fan and have written books and spoken often about him. When did you fall in love with his writing?

Terry: I discovered Lewis while in college. At first his biggest impact upon me was through his intellectual arguments for the reasonableness of faith. And while I still enjoy that aspect of Lewis, there is also an aspect of his writing that is more mythic and intuitive that moves me at an even deeper level. He was unquestionably one of the greatest creative communicators in the history of the church. And I never tire of his work. I’m always discovering new insights that I missed before when I re-read his books.

6. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from Lewis that you can encourage writers with today?

Terry: I think that one of his talents was in finding fresh metaphors for traditional ideas. It is far too easy for Christians to use phrases and words and ideas that have become clichés. This makes for lazy writing and these clichés have little power to actually move anyone. We might nod in agreement, but they usually fail to move us. We need to find fresh ways to speak, fresh metaphors and world pictures that surprise and sneak past the defenses of our readers. It is often in surprising our reader with a “new way of saying it” that we create an openness in the heart and mind which allows the truth to slip past all the defenses and make the reader vulnerable to hearing the Word afresh. Lewis, in both fiction and non-fiction, was so good at doing just that. That should be the goal of every Christian writer—take the timeless, and make it new. 

Thanks for your time, Terry. I greatly appreciate it. 


  1. I enjoyed this blog and have forwarded it to friends who enjoy the arts. I love that our Creator has given us talents, and we can use them to express creativity and glorify Him.

    Thanks, Terry and Kirk.

    Lydia (aka Grandma Tea)

  2. Thank you for the insights. I have a good agent, so I'm very interested in what acquisitions editors are looking for.

  3. Thanks for chiming in, Lydia and Cherrie.